Handicapping the AL candidates for postseason awards

The Baseball Writers’ Association of America this week announces its four major postseason awards. Votes have to in before the end of the regular season.

Here’s an American League primer:

AL Rookie of the Year: Orioles lefty John Means wasn’t one of the team’s top pitching prospects in spring training and started the season in the bullpen. He made the AL All-Star team and was the Orioles’ best pitcher, getting 12 of the team’s 54 wins. He had 121 strikeouts in 155 innings. He made pitching adjustments throughout and finished with a 3.60 ERA. Houston’s Yordan Álvarez hit 27 home runs in 87 games for a first-place team, so that’s pretty glitzy stuff. Still, Means was more successful for an entire season. Playing in only half a season doesn’t always work against a player: The Astros’ Carlos Correa was the top rookie in 2015 playing in 99 games. Tampa Bay’s Wil Myers won in 2013 with 88 games played and Philadelphia’s Ryan Howard was the top 2004 rookie playing 88 games. Tampa Bay’s Brandon Lowe hit .276 with 116 home runs in the first half, but played only a handful of games in the second half because of injury. WHO SHOULD WIN: Means.

AL Manager of the Year: Tampa Bay’s Kevin Cash got the low-budget Rays to the postseason. Rocco Baldelli of the Twins was the seventh manager in history to win at least 100 games in his rookie season. And the Yankees’ Aaron Boone won the AL East and 100-plus games despite 30 players going on the injured list. Yankees managers are usually expected to win. If there were ever a time for a Yankees manager to win the award, this is the time. WHO SHOULD WIN: Boone.

AL Cy Young: The debate has been going on since the All-Star break: Should it be the Astros’ Gerrit Cole or his teammate, Justin Verlander? Cole was 20-5 with a 2.50 ERA, 326 strikeouts and a 0.89 WHIP. Verlander was 21-5 with a 2.58 ERA, 300 strikeouts and a 0.80 WHIP. Safe to say the statistics cancel each other out. Overall, Verlander was more consistent with only one month with an ERA above 4.00, that being June when he was at 4.02. Cole started slow with a 4.34 ERA in April and 4.13 in May. And, no matter who is one-two in the voting, Tampa Bay’s Charlie Morton will be third. WHO SHOULD WIN: Verlander.

AL MVP: Houston’s Alex Bregman hit .296 with a .423 on-base percentage, 41 home runs and 112 RBIs. Oakland’s Marcus Siemen played Gold Glove defense at shortstop and hit 33 home runs with a .285 average. Los Angeles’ Mike Trout hit 45 home runs with a .291 average and a .438 on-base percentage. By traditional standards, Bregman should win because he was on a first-place team. Sieman has all the intangibles and where would the A’s be without his all-around play? Trout has the flashy statistics, but the Angels could have finished as non-contenders without him. In an age of stats-crazy voters, Trout will probably win. WHO SHOULD WIN: Bregman.